Artemis Fowl The Artic Incident - Eoin Colfer (2002)

The Artic Incident is the second book in the Artemis Fowl series. (The first book was reviewed here.) The saga of the juvenile criminal mastermind continues with an attempt to rescue Fowl's father, missing for a number of years after a trip to Russia went horribly wrong. Fowl is forced to work with the same Fairies that he robbed in the first book since he needs their help to rescue his father. For their part, the Fairies need Fowl to help them defeat a coup engineered by a disgruntled member of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Squad (LEPrecon) and a mad weapons designer. While written for young adults, the book doesn't talk down to its audience which means it works just for not-so-young adults too.

Colfer writes the books as if looking back from an unspecified point in the future, which suggests that the characters have a full arc already planned. This also subtly reinforced the idea that Artemis Fowl, at least, will survive whatever is thrown at him. That point is rather important since the books contain a lot of violence and action scenes, although one never feels like the heroes are in danger of death themselves. Still, the result is a setting which is an odd mix of light fantasy and a much darker world of violence. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a theme which runs through both this and the previous book, lost parents. At the start of the first book, Fowl's father is missing and presumed dead (by everyone but Artemis) and his mother is mad. At the end of the first book, sanity is restored to his mother, and the second book is concerned with the rescue of his father.

The clash between the light and dark aspects of the setting make for an interesting tension, and the ultimate confrontation between the Russian Mafiya and Fowl and his Fairy allies is a tight and tense action scene. Overall, the books keep one's attention precisely because of the dichotomies and the culture clash both in the world of the book between Fowl and the Fairies, and in the book itself between a dark thriller style and a light fantasy style.

Overall Grade: B


Chad Cloman said...

I really like the Artemis Fowl books. They're written for kids but are interesting for adults.

JB said...

I agree. Like most of what I think of as good "juvenile" fiction, the Fowl books don't talk down to younger readers. A lot of "juvenile" books don't hold up well as one grows older, but some are immensely rewarding at any age: Heinlein's juveniles, the Narnia books, the two Alice books ... and so on.